February 13, 12014- by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor.
For several days now, Evansville air quality has suffered significantly from high levels of fine particles. Today, they reached levels considered “unhealthy” exceeding the current 24 hour federal standard of 35µg/m3 for several hours at the time this was written. See screen shot of the data from the near real time website (http://idem.tx.sutron.com/cgi-bin/daily_summary.pl) operated by IDEM below.
I have been following this development for several days, now. It seems the first time the level exceeded the 24 hour standard for a single hour was at midnight on Sunday, February 9. From a personal standpoint, that date was significant to me because that was the day that my wife came down with a respiratory problem which was diagnosed yesterday as pneumonia. Of course, no one can say with certainty that a single diagnosis was directly caused by a single air pollution event.
However, the problem here is that here we are in the fifth day of significant pollution problems and as been the case in the past, neither IDEM or the local air pollution agency has issued any sort of alert. Now, as I write this the data clearly shows unhealthy levels but still no alert has been issued at this hour (just after 11 AM).
While the closure of several coal plants in the region is currently in the works, it is clear we have a long way to go before the air in Evansville can be considered safe. Valley Watch encourages people who have noticed breathing or respiratory irritation over the last few days to contact their elected and bureaucratic officials at EVERY level to complain that you are tired of being treated as second class citizens and forced to breathe foul, unhealthy air.
February, 5, 2014- by GoPro and Felix Baumgartner. Editors Note: It is not our common practice to commercialize what we place on valleywatch.net but this video is a must see for people who appreciate the Earth and its physical properties like gravity.
Published on Jan 31, 2014
October 14, 2012, Felix Baumgartner ascended more than 24 miles above Earth’s surface to the edge of space in a stratospheric balloon. Millions across the globe watched as he opened the door of the capsule, stepped off the platform, and broke the speed of sound while free falling safely back to Earth. Felix set three world records that day—and inspired us all to reach beyond the limits of our own realities, and reimagine our potential to achieve the incredible.
GoPro was honored to be a part of this epic achievement, with seven HERO2 cameras documenting every moment. From the airless freeze of outer space, to the record-breaking free fall and momentous return to ground—see it all through Felix’s eyes as captured by GoPro, and experience this incredible mission like never before. No one gets you closer than this.
Shot 100% on the HD HERO2® camera from http://GoPro.com
January 29, 2014-by Sonal Patel in Power Magazine
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must issue a proposed revision of its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Subtitle D rules regulating coal combustion residuals no later than Dec. 19, 2014, under a consent decree reached between the agency and environmental groups that was filed in federal court today.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Sept. 30, 2013, granted summary judgement to at least 11 environmental groups and on Oct. 29 required the EPA to submit a schedule for final agency action on the RCRA coal ash rule by Jan. 29, 2014. The environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, had sued the EPA in April 2012 to address what they said are the “serious and widespread risks that unsafe disposal of coal combustion waste or ‘coal ash’ poses to human health and environment.” The EPA’s failure to act on “well-documented risks associated with irresponsible disposal of coal ash” violates RCRA, the groups argued.
The EPA in June 2010 published alternative proposed coal ash rules under RCRA in large part due to the December 2008 failure of a coal ash impoundment at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) Kingston coal-fired power plant. That disaster released 5.4 million cubic yards of fly ash that inundated several homes and contaminated the Emory River in Tennessee. Continue reading page 2 below…
January 24, 2014-by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
Reuters reported today that Big Rivers will soon “idle” 860 MegaWatts of coal fired electric capacity in western Kentucky. That move expected to be completed by the end of June.
According the Reuters report, “Marty Littrel, a spokesman for Big Rivers, said the company was looking to idle the plants, not retire them. ”This is a temporary thing. We have some of the lowest-cost power in the country and have made proposals to sell electricity to several other companies,” Littrel said, noting the plants could sell power anywhere in the Eastern Interconnection, which covers much of the eastern two-thirds of North America.
Either way, this should be good news for tri-state air quality since together these plants emit a total of: NOX-6,061 tons; SO2-10,640 tons; toxic air pollution-5,340,920 pounds according to EPA’s eGRID database for 2009 and the Toxic Release Inventory for 2010.
Those emissions reductions, coupled with the reductions that will come from the shuttering of three coal units at TVA’s Paradise plant, announced last fall should bode well for the health of people across the area of western Kentucky and southwest Indiana.
Valley Watch has fought for years to get these plants either cleaned up or shut down but we are surprised to see the Wilson plant get the ax since it is the newest, most efficient plant in the Big Rivers system.
January 22, 2014-by Tom Phillpot in Mother Jones Magazine. Editor’s note: Valley Watch has challenged the issued Title V permit given to Ohio Valley Resources, a huge producer of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, proposed for Rockport. Our main motivation for doing so is that large ammonium nitrate plants like this emit vast amounts of ammonia to the air, averaging in those we have found, more than 8 million pounds each year. Sadly, we lack the resources to challenge a similar plant proposed for the west side of Mt. Vernon to operated by a Pakistani company, implicated in supplying ammonium nitrate for “improvised explosive devices” used against American troops in Afghanistan.
Late last year, US Department of Agriculture chief Tom Vilsack boasted that US agriculture exports had hit an all-time high in fiscal 2013, and hailed “historic work by the Obama Administration to break down barriers to US products and achieve new agreements to expand exports.” Underlying Vilsack’s glee is the idea that growing huge amounts of food here and selling a big chunk of it overseas bolsters the US economy and stabilizes rural America.
Agricultural exports cause $36 billion in annual healthcare costs, along with about 5,100 premature deaths.
That kind of thinking has driven agriculture policy at least since the days when Richard Nixon’s ag secretary Earl Butz exhorted farmers to scale up operations and plant “fencerow to fencerow” in order to supply foreign markets.
But a new paper (PDF) from Harvard suggests massive ag exports might not be the economic boon imagined by USDA secretaries. The researchers looked at a single farm pollutant, ammonia (NH3), which makes its way into the air from fertilizer applied to farm fields and from the manure that accumulates on livestock farms. Once it enters the atmosphere, as Erik Stokstad explained in an excellent (pay-walled) news item in Science, it “reacts with other air pollutants to create tiny particles that can lodge deep in the lungs, causing asthma attacks, bronchitis, and heart attacks.”
January 14, 2014- by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
Valley Watch feels strongly that IDEM did not due it proper diligence in extending the permit to allow an additional six months for construction to begin on the plant that was originally scheduled to be online in 2011. IDEM received a “request” for an extension on December 26, 2013 and grated the extension before the end of the same day. Under the rules of Title V of the Clean Air Act, once a permit is issued, the applicant is required to begin construction within eighteen months. that means the Indiana Gasification permit expired in early December 2013. The reason for the eighteen month period is to force applicants to use the most current technology for pollution control instead of relying solely on what might be antiquated technology for emissions control.
The plant, which is designed to convert coal into synthetic natural gas for home heating and industrial uses was said to cost $2.8 billion in 2008 when it first gained support in the Indiana legislature and that figure has not been updated even in light of the huge cost overruns experienced by Duke Energy in their new plant at Edwardsport which has yet to operate at anywhere near Duke’s promised capacity levels. Duke’s plant has just two gasifiers while the Rockport proposal calls for four gasifiers. Duke’s plant was originally said to cost $1.2 billion but now has a construction cost over $3.3 billion.
Duke’s plant lacks Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) while the Indiana Gasification proposal claims too use that to keep CO2 from being emitted to the atmosphere. However, the US Department of Energy (DOE) says that CCS will add approximately 50% to the capital cost of the construction as well as use 25-40% of the energy the plant will produce, reducing the overall efficiency of the technology significantly.
Indiana Gasification also requires a $2+billion Federal Loan Guarantee which could end up as high as $3 billion if the building of a pipeline from Rockport to Mississippi is included. However, since Duke’s experience showed that two gasifiers alone could not be built for less than $3 billion w/o CCS it is questionable that an inexperienced company like Indiana Gasification, owned wholly by a New York holding company named Leucadia National could build the plant and the pipeline within a $3 billion Federal Loan Guarantee.
Further, through a sweetheart deal arranged by former Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels to benefit his friend, Indiana Gasification project manager, Mark Lubbers, the State of Indiana has agreed to become the plant’s only customer and, in turn, will force Indiana gas consumers to buy the gas from the State at a significant premium over the price of natural gas.
Valley Watch, along with a coalition of other consumer and environmental groups have opposed the project since its inception in 2006 due to tremendous environmental and consumer impacts. I particular, Valley Watch has opposed the project because Rockport, IN is already one of the most toxic polluted places on earth. A town of about 2100 people has two industries which emit more toxic pollution that all the industrial toxic polluters in Atlanta, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego COMBINED.
December 30, 2013-by Peter Sinclair at Climate Denial Crock of the Week
Congressman “Smokey Joe” Barton is known for apologizing to BP after the 2010 Oil spill, and harassing climate scientists.
Turns out he’s also been a key connection between the tobacco industry and the climate denial industry. Archival footage from ABC News on the tobacco wars of the 90s turns up sequences of Smoky Joe in action on behalf of Big Cancer.
December 25, 2013-Video by David Suzuki
This video explains why population and economic growth is a false proposition.
December 4, 2013-by the International Panel on Climate Change
The IPCC has produced a video on its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). The first part on the Working Group I contribution to AR5 is now available. The other parts will be released with the successive approvals of the other two Working Group contributions and the Synthesis Report in the course of 2014.
TVA’s Paradise coal plant, one of the dirtiest in the world to shutter two units-Great health news for the Tri-State
November 14, 2013-by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
Tennessee Valley Authority’s Board of Directors today, gave an early Thanksgiving and Christmas gift to Tri-State citizens’ health by announcing they would shut down two of the three units at the plant and build a plant run on natural gas instead of coal to replace the closed units.
Together, the plants, which are to close when the construction of the gas plant(s) are completed generate 1,408 megawatts of electricity at capacity. Unit 3, which is larger, has a current rated capacity of 1,150 megawatts and will continue to run on coal.
Interestingly, all three plants recently installed scrubbers which became operational in 2012 and even with that large investment TVA decided to quit chasing bad money with good money since they could not meet the new USEPA standards for toxic emissions like mercury and hydrogen sulfide gas. Those emissions in 2009, the last available at publishing time were 10,010,317 pounds.
In it’s “fact sheet” coupled with the closure announcement, TVA said, “In the end, building a gas plant was the best long-term decision when all the benefits and risks were weighed and presented the best option for cleaner generation, while providing more flexibility to quickly meet peak loads during the day and come offline quickly at night when loads drop significantly.”
TVA says they will invest well over $1 billion in the new gas units. The units it will replace were placed into service in 1963 making them fifty years old.
Just this week, a study by the Environmental Integrity Project revealed that the aquifers beneath the plant are contaminated with Arsenic, Boron, Cobalt, Manganese, Molybdenum and Sulfate at levels significantly above health based guidelines.
Valley Watch has kept a close eye on the Paradise plant and offered comments and testimony regarding their operation for the entire thirty-two years Valley Watch has been in existence. Valley Watch’s purpose is “to protect the Public Health and Environment of the lower Ohio River Valley.”
November 13, 2013- Video by photographer Shane Black
October 23, 2013—After quitting a comfortable day job, photographer Shane Black spent two months on the road shooting time-lapses of some of America’s most beautiful spots. His “Adventure Is Calling” video is the mesmerizing result, made from about 10,000 of the photos he took.
Lady Bugs are varied and present a beautiful contrast to the dying foliage on a beautiful Autumn day
November 9, 2013-by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
You know that winter is closing in when ladybugs seem to appear all over. In this case. two ladybugs of suffering species share the same wilting foliage. © 2013 BlairPhotoEVV
November 9, 2013-by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
A trip through Audubon State Park on a beautiful Autumn day. All photos © 2013 BlairPhotoEVV.
November 6, 2013-by John Blair, valleywatch.net editor
Having cut my environmental teeth in a seven year (successful) effort to fight the Marble Hill nuclear plant in Indiana, I wrote Dr. James Hansen the following letter today admonishing him to reconsider his position as stated in a recent letter with a three other scientists proposing the use of nukes to solve the climate crisis.
It seems almost phenominal to me that anyone with much sense and not looking for personal profit could support new nukes in light of the various disasters at Three Mile Island,Chernobyl and the on going problems at Fukishima.
It seems that way too many people are of a mind set that we need increasing amounts of centralized power in order to maintain a semblance of the lifestyle we have today. Personally, I am convinced that the whole prospect of personal “conservation” has barely been explored, let alone the huge impact that improving both production and end use efficiency can do to solve this crisis.
November 6, 2013
While I continue to respect your efforts to draw attention to the climate crisis in which we continue to find ourselves, I want you to know that I disagree completely with you on your recent letter concerning nuclear power being an answer to the crisis. Yes, I do have a problem visualizing producing steel, etc. with wind and/or solar power but that problem will never be solved by using nukes.
There are simply too many issues surrounding the proliferation of nukes to consider them a real alternative for electric production, now or in the future. Indeed, those issues could have serious global implications that are on par with climate change should some despot acquire the by-products of nuclear generation.
Below, is a piece I wrote in 2001 which outline most of my issues with nukes. Please read this and perhaps rethink your position. Thanks.—-
I submit these “top ten” reasons to oppose nuclear energy.1. Every 1000 MW reactor creates enough Plutonium (Pu) to build forty nuclear bombs, each year. The half life of Pu is 24,000 years and it takes a minimum of ten half lives-240,000 years for it to decay to a level that is safe. Man has been on earth some 60,000 years. I cannot help but think that if we were bent on producing such large volumes of Pu that some despot, at some point, perhaps in the not so distant future, would use some of that Pu to initiate some sort of nuclear conflagration that would end up destroying the world. Continue reading